Acrobatics and tumbling kick off new season

The acrobatics and tumbling team is coming off a runner-up finish to Oregon in the National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association Championships last season. The team is flipping its way into the new season, set to begin Feb. 4 against the Ducks.

The roster is young, featuring 11 freshmen and eight sophomores. Only four seniors return to the team this season.

“It’s bittersweet because this [sport] has been my life for the past four years. It’s something I’ve poured a lot of time and work into,” said senior base Falynn Martinez. “This being my last season is sad. Not having this team environment anymore is going to be a difficult adjustment for me.”

Martinez and the other three athletes competing in their final season have one last opportunity to bring a NCATA Championship title to APU, a challenge which Martinez describes as a “nervous, exciting feeling.”

The four seniors have adopted leadership roles on the squad.

“Asia Desamito has really stepped up and has led the team in trying to get them to work together and rally together,” Kassurd said.

Triana Leal, one of 10 juniors, expressed her thoughts on the upcoming season.

“I feel like it’s gonna be where we match up, and how we play out the season,” Leal said. “But we’re excited to compete again.”

The team has additions who are adjusting to competing at a collegiate level and working in Kassurd’s system.

“It depends on the skills they come in with,” said Kassurd on the difficulty of learning the choreography. “We have quite a few [upperclassmen] that are doing a good job making sure [the freshmen] understand the whole process of going through a meet.”

Ashleigh Pitts is one of the additions to the team. She competes as both a top and base.

“As a freshman, the transition to the team has been really fun and not hard,” Pitts said. “I have a bunch of teammates that are supporting me and helping with stuff. It’s awesome.”

After ending last season with a national championship final meet, the team is confident the upcoming season has good in store.

“We’ve hit skills for tumbling that we had not been able to hit yet, so that’s a big deal for us,” Kassurd said.

The second-place finish was a statement for APU. “I think it proved to a lot of people that we are a team to look out for,” Leal said.

“At the same time we have a lot of room [for] improvement,” sophomore base Hannah Welander added. “Having come in second, we have more motivation to come in first.”

The Cougars look to maintain that high level of competition.

“We’re anxious [to start the season],” Welander said. “Having come in second, we have more motivation to come in first this season.”

APU begins the season Feb. 4 at home against Oregon. The Ducks won the season series 2-1 last year against the Cougars, capping the series with a win in the NCATA Championship meet.